“If you watch guitarists perform, you’ll notice that many play while staring at their left hand,” says Isbin. “I find it quite distracting, because it puts the focus on ‘look where my fingers are going,’ as opposed to ‘let’s make music.’ Unless I’m reading a score, I keep my eyes shut 90 percent of the time. I’ll look when I have to make a shift—I don’t want to miss it any more than the next person—but, otherwise, I’m not focusing on the fretboard. Playing with my eyes closed lets me immerse myself in the music. I’m relaxed because my head isn’t twisted in one direction. I can breathe with the phrasing, and my body can move freely with the sound. The benefits aren’t merely subjective, either. I’ve been told by people who know my playing very well that there’s a huge difference between when I play with my eyes shut and when I’m looking at my hands. When I close my eyes, these listeners suddenly feel a wave of energy and emotion that doesn’t happen in those places where I might be more focused on my fretwork. “This approach works for others, too. For example, last summer at the Aspen Music Festival, I had a brilliant 16-year-old boy in my master class. While he was playing, I noticed he was fixated on his left hand. I said, ‘Let’s try an experiment. Shut your eyes, don’t look at your fretting fingers, and see what happens.’ There were about 30 people in the audience, and the difference was so stunning that they all gasped. It was the same piece and the same player, but the transformation was utterly magical. The emotion was so palpable that we all got goosebumps. “If you feel hypnotized by the fretboard, there’s a simple solution. With your eyes shut, play something you know and enjoy, and see how far you can go with it. Do this in private, so if you make a mistake with a position shift, there’s no harm done—you’re experimenting and exploring. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can play with your eyes shut, and still have it come out accurately. You’ll learn where you need to glance at the fretboard, and, in the process, you’ll discover that you mostly stare at your fingers out of habit. “The true benefit is that you’ll be free to focus on what music is really about—communicating emotion. We tend to forget this as guitarists. We become hypnotized by our hands and our technique. But the goal is to move people, and to do this you have to shift your attention away from yourself and into the sound.”
Welcome to Bass Player's December 2016 Links Page
Bass Player Live! 2016 Photo Recap
Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Bob Curiano (Nouveau) (WEB EXCLUSIVE)
Pro Sound Effects Releases Tokyo Ambisonics Library
Kaltman Creations Introduces Tablet RF Analyzer
Depeche Mode Announce 2017 Global Spirit Tour
Mark Gray Synth Solo
Output Announces New Exhale Expansion - Indie Vocals
Native Instruments Introduces Symphony Essentials
How Charlie Christian Defined the Electric Guitar and the Guitar Hero Myth
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Paul Gilbert: â€œWhy My String Gauges Are Changing All the Timeâ€
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine Announces Special 'Thrashing Through the Snow' Holiday Acoustic Performance
Photo of the Day: Couple Takes Epic Engagement Photo with Black Metal Band
Whores Premiere First Ever Music Video for New Song, â€œI See You are Also Wearing a Black T-Shirt"
Former Yes Man Trevor Rabin Talks Favorite Guitars, Film Scores and "Owner of a Lonely Heart"
Country-Influenced Application of Hybrid Picking for Blues and Rock
Guitarist Shreds Country-Fried Version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps"
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